You can read 9 more articles this month
TORY MP Rehman Chishti has made another trip to the Gulf in what critics say is the latest sign of his support for the region’s brutal dictatorships.
The Gillingham MP visited Bahrain today, less than a month after he was appointed the Foreign Office’s special envoy on religious freedom.
In this official role Mr Chishti met the country’s foreign minister — who is also part of its all powerful royal family — to discuss “future collaboration.”
Bahrain has been rocked by pro-democracy protests for decades, since Britain handed over power in the former colony to the ruling Khalifa dynasty.
The family are accused of using sectarianism to stay in power by marginalising the country’s Shia Muslim majority, numbers of whom have been imprisoned for criticising the regime.
Last month political prisoner Ali al-Hajee wrote a letter of protest complaining of religious discrimination by guards at Jau prison.
As part of his trip, Mr Chishti has visited various religious sites including a Shia mosque, a Christian evangelical church and a Hindu temple.
However, Bahraini rights activists have raised concerns about Mr Chishti’s impartiality on this trip because he has previously received hospitality from the Bahrain embassy in London and spoken in support of the regime in Parliament.
Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei from the Bahrain Institute for Rights & Democracy (Bird) told the Morning Star: “Questions must be asked about Rehman Chishti’s credibility.
“Chishti has a long track record of defending Gulf dictatorships, with Bahrain and Saudi Arabia both paying for his visits in the past.
“If Chishti wants to uncover the truth about religious freedom in Bahrain, he should go to Jau prison and visit the hunger strikers protesting for their religious rights.”
In 2017, Bahraini diplomats spent about £2,000 taking Mr Chishti on a parliamentary delegation to the kingdom’s capital Manama, according to his register of interests.
He has also taken almost £6,000 in hospitality from the Saudi embassy in London, which paid for him to attend two parliamentary delegations to Riyadh in 2016 and 2011 to “strengthen political ties with the country,” as well as earning £46,000 from a Saudi think tank.
Mr Chishti’s office passed the Morning Star’s request for comment on to the Foreign Office, which had not responded as the Star went to press.
You can’t buy a revolution, but you can help the only daily paper in Britain that’s fighting for one by joining the 501 club.
Just £5 a month gives you the opportunity to win one of 17 prizes, from £25 to the £501 jackpot.
By becoming a 501 Club member you are helping the Morning Star cover its printing, distribution and staff costs — help keep our paper thriving by joining!
You can’t buy a revolution, but you can help the only daily paper in Britain that’s fighting for one by become a member of the People’s Printing Press Society.
The Morning Star is a readers’ co-operative, which means you can become an owner of the paper too by buying shares in the society.
Shares are £1 each — though unlike capitalist firms, each shareholder has an equal say. Money from shares contributes directly to keep our paper thriving.
Some union branches have taken out shares of over £500 and individuals over £100.
You can’t buy a revolution, but you can help the only daily paper in Britain that’s fighting for one by donating to the Fighting Fund.
The Morning Star is unique, as a lone socialist voice in a sea of corporate media. We offer a platform for those who would otherwise never be listened to, coverage of stories that would otherwise be buried.
The rich don’t like us, and they don’t advertise with us, so we rely on you, our readers and friends. With a regular donation to our monthly Fighting Fund, we can continue to thumb our noses at the fat cats and tell truth to power.
Donate today and make a regular contribution.